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Another Tipping Thread (on the receiving end)

First off this post is not a complaint, it's an observation and I'm curious as to what others have experienced/observed.

My wife and I recently opened a take out place and since we are 90% take out didn't expect much in the way of tips, however our customers have surprised us.

Over the past couple of months I've noticed that when my wife takes orders, she almost always gets a tip from male customers, and almost never from female customers.
When I take the orders, male customers are more likely not to tip, or just round up to the nearest whole dollar, while female customers will in general leave larger tips.

Have others seen this, or is it just my imagination?

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  1. welcome to the wonderful world of restaurant business! i think we all should get an honorary degree in psychology.

    it's probably some sub consious appreciation of attention from the opposite sex.

    16 Replies
    1. re: excuse me miss

      Since I've usually been the odd person out in other threads, I'm curious as to what all the others will say re tips in a take out place.

      Male or female behind the counter, I don't leave any tip.

      1. re: dolores

        What about the old "10 % for take-out 'rule'"?


        1. re: TexasToast

          I don't remember owning up to that one.

          As I see takeout, the people at the counter walk 20 feet or so to give the order to the cooks, help other customers while I stand there waiting for my order, walk another 20 feet or so when it's ready, another 20 feet or so to bring it to me at the counter.

          Ummm, no, in this case. No tip.

          1. re: dolores

            In our place the person who takes your order is just as likely to be the one cooking it (it's just my wife and I, no employees), and I walk another five to ten feet beyond the counter to give the order to the customer. (Big Grin)

            1. re: dolores

              Take Out Tipping:

              Taco Bell: no tip

              Chain Restaurant: no tip unless they bagged it up

              Local Diner: a generous tip for the young lady who checked to be sure everything was right, added extra napkins and utensils, and didn't forget my side of ranch.

              I'm 31 and female

              1. re: Oh Robin

                Oh Robin,
                I'm curious why the local diner "young lady" earns a generous tip for what seems to be the same service provided by a young man or lady in the chain restaurant? I'm not berating your system or flaming, just wondering what the difference is. would the chain restaurant server or host receive a generous tip if he or she did all that you mention the woman in the diner doing?

                1. re: nc213

                  Oh absolutely, if I was sure that the person at the chain (ie Chili's or God forbid on this site THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY or PF CHANG'S) who is handing me my bag is actually the person who got it ready for me. At the larger chains usually everything is done behind the scenes and then brought up to the hostess station. I'm not tipping a hostess who is paid to stand there and look cute. (let the daggers fly hounds!) But if the waiter who got it ready brings it out to me, I tip.

                  1. re: Oh Robin

                    I worked at Chili's as a to-go girl, and that was my only job. I think most other chains that have a fairly large to-go business use the same system, there is usually either a server working only to-go (which gets very, very busy) or someone hired just to do to-go; usually it's a good way to work your way up to server if you have no experience, because you learn the menu and the way the restaurant operates before you have to learn how to actually serve.

            2. re: TexasToast

              "What about the old "10 % for take-out 'rule'"?"

              Can't be that old - I think tips were 10% in the 60s

            3. re: dolores

              take-out tip: why? texas toast, home delivery is a different matter, if that is the impetus for your post about some take-out rule.

              1. re: alkapal

                Well, that's what everybody kept telling me. I think the rationale was that in some places, the servers/ bartenders are taxed with the take-out sales and so if you didn't tip them, they'd be losing money. I'm thinking of the casual dining chains like Chili's or Macaroni Grill.


                1. re: TexasToast

                  "the servers/ bartenders are taxed with the take-out sales and so if you didn't tip them, they'd be losing money"

                  What does this mean? You mean income taxes?

                  1. re: FrankJBN

                    Server's income is generally reported to the IRS (by the restaurant) as a percentage of sales - at the restaurant I used to work at, we filled out tip sheets. If you didn't turn one in they automatically reported your income as 12% of your sales.

                    If take-out items are considered part of the server's sales, but they receive no tips on those items, then the amount the restaurant automatically reports as the server's income is going to be higher than the server's actual income.

                      1. re: jnstarla

                        Very very few restaurants adhere to the "allocated tips" policy any more. If they do report allocateds, the industry norm is now 8%.

              2. re: excuse me miss

                Maybe I should have added that we owned/operated a full service Korean rest for 13 years, and I never noticed the male/female thing. But then I was the only one taking/serving orders while my wife stayed in the kitchen and slaved over the stove ;-)

                In our new business we switch back and forth quite a bit and I can see the difference.

              3. The answer is clear as mud, it depends.

                If the resto is exclusively/predominently a to-go establishment jfood does not tip. In this category is pizzerias, delis, and most Chinese to-gos. If they have a few tables 90% of those are also in this category of not a tipping meal.

                If the resto is exclusively/predominently a sit-down establishment that accomodates to-go orders jfood normally leave a 5-10% tip to the staff. But this is not a hard & fast rule.

                Hanaone to your other question of gender based tips. Jfood does not take gender into acoount when tipping. And since jfood pays with CC there is no rounding to consider, sign and go.

                2 Replies
                1. re: jfood

                  When I do take out from chains or larger take out places, I don't tip either.
                  If it's a small mom & pop I usually leave some kind of tip (from $1.00 to $5.00 depending on the size of the order - most orders $25.00 or less) because I know what they are going through trying to compete price wise with the chains.

                  I really expected very little in the way of tips and the amount of tips we are getting is surprising.
                  The gender thing is funny, since most of our customers are male my wife gets much more in tips than I do. We both laugh about that.

                  1. re: jfood

                    Everything jfood said, plus the fact that in some places, if you're sitting there waiting for the food order, tipping the bartenders isn't really such a bad thing.


                  2. I see the thread is veering off into Yet Another take-out tipping thread but I think you're original point is more interesting, personally. ;)

                    "is it just my imagination?"

                    I think you're probably oversimplifying a bit that it's exclusively gender-based but in general, sure, gender plays a big role in most social interaction - exactly how it plays out depends on the culture and in ours, being appreciated by as well as being comfortable "being nice to" people is very gender influenced (I'm not playing sociologist-on-the-Web, but that's certainly been my experience.)

                    Other things I'd be curious about is the age spread of your customers and your location. Especially what happens with customers young/old enough to be your kids or vice versa, depending on your ages; on the whole, I'd expect your results with customers of your general age (say +/- 10-15 years) - your peers essentially. And of course your (general geographic) location would be another fairly major variable to look at. In NYC there are more than a few places where the gender influence you've noticed would more likely be the direct opposite, for example. ;)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: MikeG

                      We have a full spectrum age spread, from high schoolers to the very wise.
                      The largest group age wise are younger than we are (I'm 50 and the wife is 48) say 25 to 35. The gender thing seems to happen more often with this group.
                      Most of the male customers in this group are blue collar, usually some type of construction work.
                      The female customers are mostly young(er) professionals, medical/dental, business exec, marketing, legal, etc.
                      Of those near my age, most fall into the professional class, and curiously the male customers in this group tip well when in company with female co-workers but not when alone.
                      Typically the younger they are, the less tipping. In general, the best tips come from the construction workers and the worst from the professionals.
                      We are in the Seattle metro area.

                      1. re: hannaone

                        i think that in many areas of the country, a subgroup of customers in their late 20's-30's have begun to routinely tip for takeout, while the older gen didn't grow up with the habit, so they don't *routinely* tip, though they may occasionally do so, & the youngest, newly of age customers generally don't tip on takeout because they don't have too much $--- please, everyone, not trying to say who is right or wrong, just a tipping trend i notice. . . now for some gross generalizations:

                        construction workers, truck drivers and other blue-collar workers generally, & historically, tip well because 1. they eat inexpensive meals/takeout meals routinely & generally learn that they get great treatment as a group when they tip well 2. close members of their family work as career servers-- learned to treat servers well from mom, sis or the wife 3. the tip is a gesture of social class solidarity-- "hey, we all work hard, we all deserve to make a buck" blue collar attitude, getting a bit meta for the thread, i know. . .

                        in general tips are best/most generous from industry folks, former industry folks, etc, but as you get into the social classes where you've got folks who have never had a friend or family member with a serving job, nor had to do the work themselves, people tip *differently* ;)

                        there is another subgroup of customers who actively have begun seek out & support indie business, who may tip to show support of Mr & Mrs Hannaone's venture. common in educated & liberal communites, or where folks have a strong desire for small biz to succeed, thereby benefiting the community.

                        small biz people tend to support other small biz (though maybe not the new competition right down the block) & will often choose to show their support with concrete $ (to pay overhead) rather than with well-wishes or a hearty handshake

                        & then tips are very often related to how people want to influence how they are perceived by others-- younger dudes might not want to tip Hannaone for fear of appearing condescending to an older man who's serving them, but they want to appear appreciative and generous when waited on by Mrs. Hannaone-- this is all pretty subliminal in the mind of the customer, nobody's intentionally being sexist or seeing their tipping pattern as being contradictory, considering that the owners/sole employees are working as a team, and presumably pooling tips. the guys who don't tip when alone are not worried about how Hannaone or Mrs. Hannaone may perceive them at all-- they are tipping to influence the perception of their female companions. saw this a lot bt-ing for 10 years. guys who seldom tipped for their solo drinks would tip flashily when with a female drinking companion, sometimes even when a pretty thing was sitting near them & they were fishing for her attentions. . .

                        people are interesting. the majority of takeout customers probably *normally* don't tip, there has to be another factor present, ranging from social class/upbringing to presence of opposite sex to genuine desire to support the small "mom & pop," as Hannaone describes upthread.

                        to venture a guess, i'd say that the unexpected "surprise" tips Hannaone & Mrs. Hannaone have been getting is due 1. to the new group of take-out tippers in their late 20's-30's, who weren't around before when Mr & Mrs Hannaone's full-service restaurant was open 2. genuine appreciation from customers of any age who wish to see the small independent business succeed

                    2. In my experience this is completely true. At the restaurants I worked at the female servers would ask the host to seat them men and vice versa; it's not the strongest predictor of whether they'll tip well or not (age, size of party, and yes, race are all better) but the reasoning is, a group of guys who might ordinarily tip 15% might just tip a little MORE if they like the attention of their cute waitress.

                      1. Yeah, I never tip for takeout, period. Gah, maybe I should? I mean, that's why I go pick things up instead of having them delivered to me…any little bit of money I can save is a REALLY good thing for me.

                        1. Wait a minute.You are the owners. Why are you accepting tips at all? Yikes. The whole tipping thing just gets crazier and crazier. To me, tips are for low-paid (i.e., less than traditional minimum wage) servers who depend on tips as part of their income. You set your own prices and keep your profit. I'm sure if your customers knew you and your wife were the owners, most wouldn't tip at all. Do you think most people would knowingly pay a store owner more than he/she charges, just out of the goodness of their hearts? I've never seen the owner of a business accept tips. You should decline them.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: MommaJ

                            We don't encourage it. We didn't encourage it in our former restaurant. But after several hundred times of saying no thanks, we let the customers do as they will.
                            And yes, the customers do know that we are the business owners.
                            About our profit - It's minimal, our prices are driven more by the competition with large fast food chains (who have a tremendous buying power that we don't have) than what we would like to set as a "profit" price.

                            1. re: MommaJ

                              um, many business owners get paid less than their employees, Momma, if they are paid anything at all the first few years of business. . . "keeping the profit," huh-- it goes immediately back into the business until it's well established. i have no problem tipping a small biz owner trying to keep the doors open, especially if i know they have a 2nd full-time job to support their family while they serve me for no pay. if it was paradise for small biz, everyone would do it, right?

                              1. re: soupkitten

                                Yup, owning a small retail business can be tough--we own one, so I'm quite familiar with all the issues, and no, we're not getting rich. But I don't expect my customers to subsidize my business by paying me more than I charge. And I would accept such an offer. It's a business, not a charity. I suspect most people wouldn't consider tipping the owner of a takeout establishment, and I'd bet a bundle that no posters would ever tip a NON-food business owner no matter how precarious his/her situation seemed to be.

                              2. re: MommaJ

                                I totally disagree with MommaJ. For more than 15 years I've been going to a little hole-in-the-wall place that's run solely by a husband-and-wife team. There are no other employees, ever. He cooks, she brings the food to the table, but it's strictly pay at the counter. I always, always put a few dollars in the tip jar on the counter, because their prices are really very cheap, the storefront rents in that neighborhood are exceedingly high, and I like them and their food. Why shouldn't I voluntarily pay more than they're asking?

                                1. re: Kitchen Imp

                                  You can absolutely do whatever you wish in deciding to tip for takeout.

                                  By the same token, so can I. And I don't.

                                  1. re: dolores

                                    Servers love customers like you D.
                                    Do what you want, stick to your guns, they can sniff you out, trust me.

                                  2. re: Kitchen Imp

                                    Well, you can, of course, do what you like. But more to the point, why should this couple request that people voluntarily pay more than they're asking by keeping a tip jar on the counter? I see no reason to subsidize anyone's business. If it's not sufficiently profitable, they should raise their prices; if that's not feasible, their business isn't viable, they are in the wrong line of work, and your few bucks won't change that. We own a retail store (non-food). Our rent is high. Our fuel oil costs will kill us this winter. If we can't make a decent profit charging competitive prices, we should fold. If you'd like to stop by and pay us more than we charge for our merchandise, I suppose you're welcome to do so, but I suspect you don't follow this line of reasoning for non-food retailers, no matter how much they may be struggling.

                                    But I guess what bugs me most about tipping in take-out places is the inequity of it all. Our employees do as much for our customers as any take-out employee, sometimes more. They don't get tips. I've had shoe salespeople work with me for a half hour, running back and forth to the storeroom to fetch shoes. They don't get tips. The tellers at my bank are friendly and efficient and stand on their feet all day. They don't get tips. We're all free to spend our money any way we want to, but to me, the only way to make sense of the tipping issue is to only tip those whose hourly wage is set on the presumption that they will be compensated with tips. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

                                    1. re: MommaJ

                                      momof3, I guess you missed the part where I said I tip all 'real' servers 20%. I didn't see your posts to those who tip 10% and 15%.

                                      >>If we can't make a decent profit charging competitive prices, we should fold.<<

                                      Exactly, MommaJ. Back to my constant refrain that if those who open restaurants can't build bread and water and takeout containers into their overhead or into their entree prices even, they too should fold. Additionally, those who don't treat the patron as the most special person on the planet for the one night they enter their restaurant for a dining experience, they too should fold.

                                      But hey, if people are willing to settle for less, more power to them. I don't and I won't.

                                      And as far as I can see, the OP wasn't even opining on the expectation of tipping in a takeout place, just on the interesting gender split on tips proffered. I saw no mention of a 'tip jar' from hannaone.

                                      Incidentally, on the bussers all get tips, I have been made aware of a place whose bussers are paid more per hour than the servers, and they don't get any tips.

                                      1. re: dolores

                                        After people continued tipping we did put up a small tip jar. We now use that to "pay the difference" when one of our customers is a little short. We also will sometimes give a meal to the young kids (high schoolers) who seem to be interested in our food but don't have the means to buy a meal, and to a couple of the homeless who sometimes pass by.

                                      2. re: MommaJ

                                        MommaJ -
                                        We don't ask our customers to tip. When we opened the business, it was with the expectation that we would receive little to no tips.
                                        At first we actively tried to discourage it by saying "no thanks", but people left tips anyway, on the counter, on the tables, and on their credit slips.
                                        A couple people even got offended that we tried to refuse their tips.
                                        That was one of the points of this observation - that we were surprised by the tips that people were leaving.

                                        1. re: MommaJ

                                          In response to MommaJ - The place I was referring to is not a take-out place. It's a pay-at-the-counter, mom-and-pop restaurant. The wife brings food to the table, but since you pay at the counter, the tip jar is there.

                                    2. Although I didn't work in a food establishment, I found the gender thing to be true as well. I'm female and worked at an arcade/laser tag place. At the register, our credit card slips had tip lines on them for the employees who "coached" birthday parties.
                                      It wasn't all too rare to get a dollar or two written in for me when all I did was sign them up for a laser tag game. It very well could have been tip line guilt, but every single one was from a male.